It’s happening. Or, at least, it’s about to happen. In this update, I’ll cover two major projects that are finally winding down – the construction of Galaxy’s Edge inside the Park and everything that’s going on outside the entrance as Disney tries to streamline the arrival experience.
We’re just ten days away from the start of cast member previews at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which should continue through the 16th of August. After that, it’s expected that some number of annual passholder previews will be held in front of (part of) the Land’s official opening on August 29th. I offered a few thoughts on what I’m expecting from the (partial) grand opening in last week’s Skyliner update at Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts, but it “feels” like after the first weekend, September may turn out to be just about as quiet as it has been every year for the past 45+.
From September 1st through November 2nd, we’ll enjoy an unprecedented number of Extra Magic Hours and early opens. Every day during that nine-week period, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom will open at 8am. Every day during that period, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom will host a morning Extra Magic Hour from 7am to 8am. And every day during that period, Hollywood Studios will offer morning Extra Magic Hours from 6am to 9am. That’s a total of 315 extra hours of morning operation. During that same time period last year, those Parks would have offered just 36 total hours of morning EMH.
In the foreseeable future, there may never be a better time to be in one of those Parks than the first 30 minutes of one of those morning EMH on a weekday in September, perhaps with the exception of Galaxy’s Edge. But even then, 6am is awfully early in the morning and there’s the potential that Disney will actually open the Park before the stated 6am time.
You might remember last year’s Toy Story Land opening, when Disney offered a one-hour morning Extra Magic Hour from 7am to 8am every day during the long, hot summer.
We continue our look around “Disney’s art of ANIMATION resort,” after first taking a considerable look at the Disney Skyliner construction, and what the new transportation service may mean for Walt Disney World as a whole, and Pop Century and Art of Animation in particular. It’s probably too early to declare whether the Skyliner is a positive or a negative for the resorts, particularly after considering even bigger price increases compared to other options in the same category, but taking a look around the resort now may offer some insight into whether it’s the right choice for an upcoming stay.
Four major sections comprise Disney’s Art of Animation, each themed to a major intellectual property. Does anybody remember the good old days when Disney would theme its resorts to original ideas, like “trees” or “the water in the tropics?” Apparently nothing is sacred to the Chapek regime.
We’re heading out to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort & Gondola Station for a timely update on the progress of what the company is calling “the dawn of a new era in Walt Disney World transportation.” Personally, I think the toilet paper could probably use an upgrade before we get all high and mighty about a supposedly futuristic mode of transportation that isn’t far off from what I’ve been able to ride at the Washington State Fair since I was six, but, as usual, I was not polled before these capital expenditures were approved. “Non-air-conditioned flying trapeze boxes of death opening during the hottest month of the year with transportation times equal to or longer than the same trip would take on a bus, or Charmin?” It’s a tough one…
Just three days ago, Disney announced that the Skyliner gondola system would officially open on September 29th, or exactly one month after the world ends on August 29th for the opening of (a part of) Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Here in Florida, we continue to act like the sky is falling over the opening of one galaxy-based ride that already debuted months ago somewhere else. Imagine. Florida. Wanting attention? It’s inconceivable.
Our coverage of the various Italian food options around the Walt Disney World Resort continues with Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We opened with what will hopefully be the worst of the bunch in Tony’s Town Square Restaurant over at Magic Kingdom as part of this review. We’ll definitely get over to Epcot for Tutto Italia and Via Napoli, but may skip Disney Springs, despite the fact that I’ve been to Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway, Terralina Crafted Italian, etc. about a dozen times in total without writing any formal reviews. Perhaps some sort of quick overview would be prudent, but there isn’t a whole lot of interest in Disney Springs dining, despite the fact that it’s typically where you’ll find the best version of each type of cuisine. Of those three options, Maria & Enzo’s is easily the best. I would not willingly step inside either of the other two restaurants again. Should you have interest, you can hear my opinions on the various eateries at Disney Springs on the March 28th, 2019 episode of Walt Loved Podcasting.
While Tony’s Town Square offers a Dining Package that includes reserved viewing for the afternoon parade, Mama Melrose offers a similar Dining Package that includes seating in the reserved section for Fantasmic:
With sadness and despair in our eyes, it’s time that we return to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, the “Italian” eatery that you’ll find just inside the entrance to Magic Kingdom on the right. As long as you head in through any of the doors into Town Square Theater, you’ll eventually make your way down to the restaurant’s check-in area, so long as you continue moving through the building, which is also shared with the Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell Meet and Greets, among other things. For some time, Tony’s actually bribed diners by offering FASTPASSes for Tinker Bell to use after their meal. Potentially, if the first vacation picture that you show your friends is of you standing there looking sickly, every other picture that you present will have you looking more vibrant. It’s the oldest trick in the book.
This review continues our reexamination of the various Magic Kingdom eateries, which began with Liberty Tree Tavern in this review, which covers just about everything on the menu. We also visited Skipper Canteen in this review. And while it’s not a sit-down restaurant for lunch, we also stopped by Be Our Guest Restaurant to check out some new menu items there too, since you may have it on your list of potential midday stops. We took a short break from continuing through the Magic Kingdom restaurants, in large part due to my recovery time after eating at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, but we’ll also revisit Plaza Restaurant and perhaps Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table, depending on what else is going on. A resort or tower or something might have opened recently. It’s stipulated in my contract that I provide that information to you within 16 weeks.